Recipes Spices Veggie matters

Fiji Curry

Fiji Curry

Right around the time Americans were preparing their turkey last week, Sharon sailed to Fiji. Or at least she did in the progress of this manuscript.

Last week, I sat in the CMU library (it’s a quiet, air-conditioned escape from the neighbors who have banged and drilled on a house extension for the past month) going through transcriptions of our conversations, reading about Sharon’s encounter with a kind Fijian who invited her home for curry. So I got sidetracked with the imagined scents of a curry I’d never tried. How to make it? I was curious.

With not much digging, I uncovered a recipe here, which I altered to suit the ingredients we had in the fridge. I was trying to empty the kitchen before leaving for Cambodia. We had lots of veggies and all the right spices. Though I made a vegetarian curry, I suspect this recipe would work very well with meat. Here goes:

8 cloves garlic
pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon cumin seed
2 teaspoons fenugreek
2 teaspoons coriander seed
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
3 tablespoons curry powder (I used a Malaysian chicken curry powder)
hot red chilies to taste
chopped cilantro leaves
pinch of sugar
1/2 cup plain yogurt
whatever veggies you like, chopped (I had okra, purple eggplant, onion, yellow bell pepper and tomatoes)

Using a mortar and pestle (or food processor), mash garlic and salt. Add a bit of water to form a paste. Add cumin, fenugreek, coriander, mustard, curry and chilies. Pound until thoroughly mashed, adding water if necessary to form a paste.

Next, toss a sliced onion into a bit of olive oil and a pinch of the curry paste and cook until brown. Add the remaining paste, the cilantro leaves and enough water to cover the mixture; bring to a boil. Toss in your veggies and cook until tender, adding more water if necessary. Add a pinch of sugar to balance the flavors. Just before removing from heat, stir in the yogurt. Top with additional cilantro leaves.

Then: dream of Fiji.*

*And you might have vivid dreams after eating this curry. I don’t know if any of you experience this same effect, but the night after a good pungent curry, Jerry and I often sleep fitfully with wild, Technicolor dreams.

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